Measuring not-for-profit social media success

I’ve been thinking about ideas on how not-for-profits can measure social media investments. The image below is a three-tiered system that focuses on brand awareness, building connections, and strengthening relationships. It does not touch on ROI that would occur with a social media campaign linked directly with a marketing campaign. I know there isn’t one answer for measuring social media, and I hope to share more ideas in the future.

Ways a not-for=profit can look at measuring their social media success

The purpose for each tier is to build upon the previous connections that have been made. It is important for the organization to develop levels of measurement for each tier that is appropriate for their needs.

Tier 1 – the most focused level that all other tiers build from

  • Mission – Creating a consistent voice that supports the organization’s mission.
  • Platforms – Selecting specific social media platforms that support the organization’s mission, while allowing the organization to foster an online community.

Tier 2 – three main objectives that are frequently talked about

  • Brand Awareness – Using selected social media platforms to educate and build brand awareness with community leaders, donors, volunteers, members, peers, and staff.
  • Building Connections – Engaging the online community with relevant conversation that is focused on connecting followers with the organization’s mission.
  • Relationships – Fostering relationships into strong bonds that empower followers to share their own story.

Tier 3 – a circular web that drives an organization’s social media success. This web may be small at first, but over time will begin to grow.  

  • Exposure and Conversation – Using the consistent voice developed in tier 1 to engage followers in conversation. Building a community of followers with relevant well-developed content focused on the organization’s mission.
  • Influence – Building a positive reputation that positions the organization as a leader in their specific field.
  • Engagement – Empowering followers to use personal experiences with the organization to begin their own conversation with their online community. I believe the engagement stage is the key moment to measure an organization’s social media success.

A lot has been written about measuring an organization’s success with social media. There seems to be no right answer, except the one that fits within the organization’s needs.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Leave your comments below.


6 responses to “Measuring not-for-profit social media success

  1. Doug,

    I like the direction you’re working in. I’ve written a bit on measurement for nonprofits. Not as much on SM. I agree with you that donations come from engagement and passion. So how do you measure those? I’m curious to see where you go from here – and what others think…

    • Janet, Thank you for your comment. I look forward to reading your blog as well.

      Great question about measuring donations from participant engagement. As a starting point, I think nonprofits need to treat donors as their best customers. Find out what connects them, their interests, how they prefer to receive and share information, etc… From their the picture will become more clear if SM is the right tool for engaging donors and if attempts have been successful.

  2. I guess the best way to see if the success of Social Media (SM) is to cross reference the people who utilize SM for the Non-Profit and see if they translate over to donations. I know that is simplistic answer, but it is the most basic in regards to measuring the success of SM. Now I think it would be interesting to see if there is a correlation between time spent utilizing SM would be to see if the most frequent users (either engaged in the SM process or just visiting to update themselves) translate in to the most engaged members of the donation circle. The reason why I write about donations, is because the donor is the one who perpetuates the Non-Profit through continued giving.

    Now I look at SM as a small piece to this whole process (yes I know SM is your thing) but continual engagement of your community leaders, donors, volunteers, members, peers, and staff, is based off of the programming which is relived and updated through SM to provide a sense of engagement while one cannot be physically there. So to me it feels as if SM is a very successful way to provide continual virtual presence in a community that one is no longer engaged as one would want to be.

    • Nathan, as always your thoughts are well stated. I do agree that SM can support engagement, but not replace traditional relationships.

      Your idea about measuring active SM members against donor lists is interesting. I think camp would find that most of our active SM members are young and aren’t currently donors. This is something our fund development team should look at and develop a strategy to cultivate these SM members as donors. Maybe even using SM,a platform they are comfortable with, to make an ask.

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